'Faster asylum policy a good thing, but don’t erode human rights’

22 February 2011

'Faster asylum policy a good thing, but don’t erode human rights’

The SP is to a degree positive about the new proposals from Immigration and Asylum Minister Gerd Leers to speed up asylum policy. ‘The section of the proposal which calls for an extended and meticulous enquiry in response to the first request for asylum was put forward by the SP in 2009,’ Rik Janssen points out. ‘This would assure more clarity from all parties and more rapid follow-up procedures. However, to deny people the right to good legal support as Leers wants to, is ill-considered, inhumane and impractical.'

Rik JanssenThe SP proposal that Leers has now adopted as his own is to make the first asylum procedure more exhaustive, ensuring that all aspects are looked into, including medical issues, potentially distressing aspects of the case, any family living in the Netherlands, and the possibility that the applicant has been a victim of human trafficking. This will ensure an improved initial judgment and this will pay off in clarity and in the need for fewer follow-up procedures. The SP proposed this in 2009 but the right-wing parties, together with Labour, failed at that time to support it.
Leers also announced today measures to cut back on legal aid by asylum lawyers and to increase the burden of proof on asylum seekers. In Jensen’s view, these should go straight into the bin. “Leers lays the blame for long-lasting asylum procedures entirely on to the asylum seekers, while the Immigration and Naturalisation Service routinely lodges, on the minister’s behalf, an appeal and then a further appeal whenever asylum is granted by the courts, a side of the story which he ignores. Also, the government is trying in this way to undermine the legal protection afforded to the individual. How can you think of introducing a ‘no win, no pay’ principle in asylum cases where you can be dealing with matters of life and death. The slogan of this government is clearly that countervailing power must be broken. I support the idea of having an extensive and meticulous initial asylum procedure, but the other measures announced today must be thrown out, and as quickly as possible.”

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